Friday, November 28, 2008

Sometimes Minority Doesn't Work

With the recent economic downturn, the social issues I hate the Conservative government here for have been shoved to the back. Since the election, the financial aspects have started coming to the fore. We've been lucky in that Canada's economy is relatively very strong compared to the US, UK, etc..

But the finance minister unveiled his "economic update", not quite a budget, the other day. In it, he proposed some deep spending cuts in order to avoid running a deficit, and said there'd be no economic stimulus from the government with the current conditions. I was shocked... someone did the right thing! I wasn't a fan of cutting the political party subsidies (they're part of a campaign finance reform idea that allows smaller parties to compete without becoming beholden to special interests), but the general idea was good.

I disagree with the idea that the government HAS to spend and bailout (obviously) to save us all. I'm not against investment in infrastructure, education, and health care, as these are things that build a stronger future and are forward-thinking. But handing money out is idiotic, and running a deficit does nothing in this climate. The argument of "it worked in the past" is complete crap as far as I'm concerned. We might as well resurrect trepanning for the mentally ill, because it "worked" in the past. That argument is a short-sighted view that ignores the larger global picture and doesn't look past its nose in either direction.

Regardless, the problem I have is that the other parties have picked NOW as the time to join together and stand against the Conservatives. The reason - the cut in public funding to the parties. This is odd, because I actually agree with their stance against this (again, I think it cuts back special interest money), but the result could be ugly.

What this means is that if the opposition parties vote against the update, the government could fail and we go back to the polls less than month after the last election. Plan B is a coalition government forms between the Liberals and NDP with the support of the Bloc to overtake the Conservatives. This avoids another election but creates an even more unstable leadership. Plus, it gives the NDP FAR too much power, and the Liberals have a leadership hole themselves at the moment. We'd be looking at deficits and overspending almost immediately. Of course, the Conservatives would oppose their budgets and we'd back to square one. Unless the Liberals can contain the NDP and stick to a center-right budgetary ideal that the Conservatives can live with.

So by Monday, the Conservatives have to find a way to make this update more palatable. If the major stumbling block is the cut to public funding of the parties, then that could be removed relatively painlessly (about $25-30 million). The $2.3 Billion in sales of public assets however, that could be a trickier stumbling block as it stands a rather large one-time windfall, and the assets have yet to be identified. But if history is any indicator, when the Conservatives sell something, they sell the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time with horrible long-term results for the public good.

So I'm between a rock and a hard place. Avoid a deficit and bailout or possibly regret the fallout from cuts to party funding and asset sales?

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